A Conversation with a Friend about Life

Last week I met a friend for coffee. It was the end of summer that I saw him last — O how that winged tyrant flies! — and it was lucky because he’s graduated and he’s very busy these days. It was nice to see him, and we had a really good conversation.

We said the usual how are you doing, what’s new? And then my friend said, “I’ve applied for an internship with the Canadian Embassy.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Did you get it?”

“I haven’t heard yet. They said they’d contact me within two weeks for an interview.”

“I’m sure you’ll get it.”

“But what if I don’t?” he said. “There are a lot of people applying for it.”

“Do you think you will get it?”

“Well, I hope so.”

“What did the application require?”

“Write an essay and submit a cover letter and my transcripts.”

“Did you do all that?”


“Was your essay good? Did your cover letter say all that you wanted it to?”

“As much as it could.”

“And your grades are fine, right?”

“They’re okay. Yeah, they’re good.”

“So you did everything that you had to do, right?”


“Okay, then what’s the worry?”

Because!” he said. “Everyone will have done all that stuff, and there are like two positions.”

“But you did all that stuff,” I said.

“Yeah, I told you.”

“Okay,” and I went and refilled my coffee.

When I returned, my friend said. “What? So I’m just supposed to forget about it and leave it up to the Gods?”

I laughed. “Essentially.”

“But what if I don’t get it?”

“That’s out of our control at this point.”

“But that sucks,” he said.

I agreed. “But unfortunately, it’s the truth.”

Rather than allow this revelation to dampen our spirits, we started talking about the idea of diligence and determination, and asked the question: Do these qualities actually pay off in the end?

It’s something my friend is experiencing, and many of us, too, as we reach the end of our career at U of T. Will all of my hard work lead to a satisfying career? The conclusion my friend and I settled on (I’m sure we could have conversed longer and more inquisitively) is that, at some point along the road, the decision of whether we become doctors, lawyers, professors, authors, sports-stars, or even astronauts, will be out of our control. And what is most important is that we pursue our goals up to that point.

My friend did all that he could for his application. I’ve known him since first year, and it was never his plan to work at the Canadian Embassy. But once the opportunity arose, he applied himself to the utmost of his ability, rallying the full breadth of his university experience and education, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

He did everything he could, and then surrendered to Chance. It’s funny that we recognize success only when its says, “You passed!” or “You’re hired!” or “Welcome aboard!” We fail to acknowledge that every day you go to class, by your own will, out of desire, or a sense of responsibility, is a triumph of our university education. Every time you commit yourself to learning, regardless of grades, is a success of your character and your development as a human being.

It sucks that four years at university doesn’t secure us a dream job. But being a university student means that we have the unparalleled opportunity to prepare and apply ourselves with every ounce of interest, intelligence, honesty, and strength that we possess to gain that desired career, before we throw our lives back into the hands of Chance.

My friend got an interview. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. Maybe we’ll have another great conversation.


‘Til then, stay diamond, U of T!

- Stephen.

Blue Sky

Last week, I talked about all of the LinkedIn knowledge that was handed to me from the Career Centre and a LinkedIn Recruiter, Perry Monaco. He mentioned something throughout the discussion that I found especially interesting, and it’s kind of stuck with me since. Perry gave some great advice, known as the “blue sky” concept. Be warned, it sounds simple, but I found it a challenge to do without having inhibitions or expectations interrupt the process. In fact, it took a few tries before I was able to clear my anxieties, which, let me assure you, as a particularly obsessive compulsive detail oriented individual, is no easy feat.

The first step is sitting down and thinking over, in some serious detail, what you would see as the ultimate kind of career, something you’d like to see yourself doing. And the importance (and reason) it’s called the blue-sky approach is because you’re not to set any limits. Of course, because it is November/the month of punishment before holiday cheer/everyday is a dark cloud day, I thought at first it was a little too dreamy. But the more Perry explained, the more it made sense. Ultimately, you’re setting goals for yourself, and creating an internal plan.

In reality, many recruiters and interviewers do actually ask this question, and I think it’s an even more important to ask as a student.  If someone were to ask me where I saw myself in the next five years, I must admit, my first thought would be “well, hopefully drinking less coffee…” which is not exactly the ideal blue sky picture. I mentioned the difficulty I had in picturing my own blue sky, much of which is undoubtedly linked to the fear of failure. Which brings me to this video, which I noticed floating around Facebook this past week:


Maybe it was the tone, maybe it was the music or maybe, just maybe it was the pictures. Either way, the video almost immediately made me think of the blue-sky concept. The narrator, Alan Watts, seemingly convinces you to lift all boundaries. In fact, it’s mostly the boundary, the one that in many ways, becomes our main source of $tress. Until I realized I was completely guilty of doing this, I mean it’s been pretty evident that it still remains a concern. But should it? Should money dictate what you want to do? I mean, for a long time I felt like unless I was planning on renewing my citizenship to the Lost City of Atlantic, it definitely needed to be considered. But I’m starting to wonder where I draw the fine line.

How much of a role does money play in figuring out what you’d like to do, or where you see yourself?


Working for the Weekend: Tips on Finding a Job on Campus

You might wake up every morning and feel like this. (I know the feeling, guys, believe me, I’ve had a nasty cold all week and even getting out of bed has been a struggle.) But even still, the reality is that every fall a bunch of us students look for part-time jobs to help pay for our expenses.

(Sorry, I couldn’t help but post this video. This song is fantastic.) Anyway, working during the school year can be achieved without bringing down your GPA. I’ve seen it done and done well. But I’ve also seen people completely break-down under the pressure of trying to manage too many things at once! It’s all about finding balance and completely mastering the art of prioritizing and time management. If you find the right job and learn to organize like crazy, working and studying is totally doable. And, in the process, you not only get some money in the bank but you get some real-life job skills to put on your resume and you’ll actually have banked up a few employers who can serve as references after graduation.

But of course, with the wrong job — the one that is too time-consuming; the one that has the nightmare boss; the one that gives you stress dreams where you wake up screaming and throw the covers off of yourself like they’re trying to steal your wallet or something — well, with those jobs, the work/study balance can be precarious.

I definitely endorse working and studying at the same time. I did it last year, and I think that it gives you a healthy dose of perspective on how you can make whatever you’re studying applicable to the real world. But the trick is to avoid those nightmare jobs whenever possible.

Working on campus is one of the best bets to avoid bosses like this. As a general rule, most on-campus employers understand that you’re a student, and they’ll be more likely to give you some leeway if, for instance, you’re in the middle of the mid-term schedule from hell.You’ll physically be on campus at work, so it’s much easier to go straight from a shift at work to the library, and working behind the scenes of your regular student experience helps you learn more about the university and how to take advantage of all of the opportunities offered.

A few of my good friends in the Art History program work at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, getting some curatorial and gallery experience while earning some cash, and use the experience they have there to relate it to their work at the Fine Arts Student Union and the Hart House Art Committee.  Another friend did a Work-Study Position in her college’s student life office, which helped her get enough know-how and experience to secure her summer position and score her a cool community-service placement in the fall. The cool thing is that working on campus doesn’t have to just be that thing you have to do so that you can afford your morning coffee. If you do your research and figure out where you want to work and what you want to do, it can be a stepping stone that will lead you to your dream job. (I mean, I don’t want to over-sell it. Maybe it won’t lead you to your “dream job” but it can lead to other cool opportunities which leads to other cool opportunities.)

Ok, so have I sold you on this yet? If I have, be prepared to start your job search immediately! I know that September still feels like it’s a long way off, but in the job hunt you have to start early! a great place to start your search is at the Career Centre. Click the “Student” tab and click on “Job Search.” (You’ll have to either register or log in to get to this next part.) From here, you can do an ‘Advanced’ search and only see the jobs on campus. I just did a quick search, and currently there’s not too many positions listed. But don’t despair! Not all jobs end up getting posted. Some of the major employers on campus are the libraries at U of T, the U of T Bookstore, The Faculty of Physical Education & Health, and Hart House. Check on their individual websites often to see if any new positions have been posted. Also, consider networking with your professors and course unions to hear about any research assistant positions as they become available!

The Work-Study program is provided through the Career Centre, for students who are eligible for financial aid. (And a little bird told me that the Office of Student Life will be posting Work-Study positions soon!) Keep in mind that you don’t have to necessarily qualify for OSAP! You just need to demonstrate financial need to the satisfaction of the office of Admissions and Awards.

The Career Centre also offers a bunch of services to help you GET the job, once you’ve found the job that you want. Check out their resume drop-in clinic and practice interviews to help get the confidence you need to nab the job.

Good luck!

Goodbyes, hellos, and an invitation: UpbeaT makes its seasonal shift

Hello everyone: Chris Garbutt here, manager of the UpbeaT project at Student Life. You’ve probably read all the goodbye posts from this year’s bloggers. It’s been a great year at UpbeaT. Week after week, our bloggers told you about the amazing things they’ve done on campus, and some of the involved, engaged people who are also doing amazing things at U of T. Thanks to Cynthia, Danielle, Dara, Lori and Shannon for all your hard work!

Now that we’re into a new session, I hope you’ll welcome Emily, our new summer communications intern at Student Life. She’ll be your UpbeaT blogger until the end of the summer, and will pick up where the regular UpbeaT team left off.

Work for UpbeaT!

lifeatuoft is a great blog to work for, and we’re now looking for curious, creative and committed new bloggers for the 2011-2012 school year. Apply for any of these positions:

lifeatuoft Writer: Proven writer, either in print or online.

lifeatuoft Multimedia Blogger: You love to tell visual stories!

Physical Activity Blogger: Create posts about physical activity and healthy living!

Writer/Videoblogger (International): Find creative ways to capture and convey the range of international experiences and opportunities available through U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science.

Deadline for these positions is May 31 or June 1.

Thanks to all our readers, and enjoy your summer. Keep reading!

On The Summer Job Hunt…

Don’t allow yourselves to be fooled by how miserably grey it looks outdoors – summer will soon be upon us. Well, by “summer”, I mean the end of the 2010-2011 school year. And with the end of this semester comes, for many students, the need to be gainfully employed until September rolls around again. There is a wealth of information out there but when you’re beginning your job hunt, being overwhelmed by boatloads of websites, job-hunting tips, etc. is the last thing that you probably need. With that said – where’s a good place to start?

The university’s Career Centre is an invaluable resource. By signing up on their website, you’ll gain access to their database of available jobs – both internal (on-campus employment) and external (off-campus). The Career Centre is located on the ground floor of the Koffler Building at St. George and College, and offers job fairs, resume clinics, career and employment counselling, practice interviews,  and various workshops and seminars.

Also, when you sign in to the portal, click on the “Work at U of T” link (located on the bottom left hand corner of the portal home screen). This will lead you to the “Jobs @ UofT” home page. On the left side there are several more links to click on – the links most useful to students are the “UTemp” page, and the “Jobs For Students” page.

UTemp is the on-campus temporary employment agency for U of T students, and covers not just summer employment, but also casual vacancies throughout the school year. When you join UTemp, you will first have to fill out an on line application form, and upload a copy of your resume.

On a side note, although the Work-Study Program is not summer employment, it’s a great opportunity to work on campus. Positions run from September through March, and the application deadline is in October of each year. If you are interested in employment throughout the school year, keep an eye on their website for updated deadline dates. Remember that obtaining a work-study position may lower the amount of OSAP that you are eligible for.

Best of luck, and happy hunting!


The Career Centre’s Extern Job Shadowing Program

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! Hope Turkey Day is turkey-ful, or, if you’re vegetarian, food-ful!

As I’m enjoying this wonderful, school-free day (not really – I’m actually trying to finish my notes for my test next week, and trying to get started on four of my essays that are all due the same week in November, which I’ve appropriately named The Impending Week of Doom), I’m staring at the Career Centre‘s job postings for summer. Given that I am somewhat early, there are understandably few summer jobs available. (But some of the few that are there have applications due really soon, so if you want to work for one of those big companies with lots of steps in the application process – I’m looking at you, Procter & Gamble, and Shell – my advice is to start looking now.) As I scroll through the listings, I realize that there are quite a few jobs that I’d love to try, but have no idea if they’re right for me, or if I want to spend the equivalent of one semester (May-August) doing them.

As if right on cue, my email pings the arrival of an email from the Career Centre about the Extern Job Shadowing Program. And I think, oh right, it’s that time of the year!

Before I tell you what Extern is, I want you to think quickly: Have you ever been interested in a career, but you’re studying something completely different and have no idea what it’s like? Or have you ever just wanted to see what happens during a day in the life of a certain professional? This is essentially what you can do by signing up for Extern (it’s even free!).

Extern is a job-shadowing program offered by the Career Centre for currently enrolled U of T students, allowing them to explore a career by visiting professionals in the workplace. Extern happens twice every year, once during the February Reading Week, and another after final exams in April. As a participant, you get to shadow your sponsor in his or her natural working environment, observe his or her daily work activities, tour a number of departments, and meet with other staff to discuss the industry.

Last year, I was forced to go to I was at a social event of some sort and this person told me that he worked in international trade. After several minutes of conversing with him over some delicious tiger-shrimp cocktails, I came to the conclusion that 1) the shrimps were really, really good, and 2) well, he worked IT, but not that IT. Nonetheless, my interest was piqued, and when I got the same email from the Career Centre regarding the job shadowing program, I immediately signed up and put down “international trade” as my first choice.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I got an email the next day telling me to stop by the Career Centre. Apparently, international trade is one of those careers areas where you really can’t job-shadow because of security reasons (you’ll see what I mean in a bit). Nonetheless, the people from the program somehow managed to get me a lunch interview at the U.S. consulate, and said, although you’ll only get a few hours, would you still like to go, Cynthia? Heck yeah I would!

I attended a mandatory orientation before setting off to the consulate. It was everything I needed to know. You get information on what to expect, what to wear, etiquette, how to write a follow-up thank you letter, etc. I learned basic business know-hows that were useful and applicable even after my placement. Now, given that I didn’t get a “normal” placement, I didn’t have to wait until February. I went to the lunch interview a few weeks after I applied to the program.

The morning of, I was jittery with anticipation and excitement. After all, I still had no idea what IT was, but I was going to find out. I Google-mapped the building and was there 20 minutes early. Which was good, because it gave me time to go to the bathroom to make sure I looked presentable in my pantsuit, and to buy a strawberry cream cheese bagel (toasted). Exactly 10 minutes before my appointment, I went up the elevator and as I got out, I stopped dead in my tracks.

The door was huge. And metal. Like, the kind of door you see in movies where the thieves try to get in to steal stuff. It was just as heavy as it looked. When I got in and looked around, there was a metal detector, and one of those machines with the conveyor belt that airports have, where they scan your bag to see what’s inside. On the other side of the room was a security guard behind a tinted-glass window and I was asked to turn over my ID and cellphone and any other electronic items I had with me (my iPod). Hooo boy, was I intimidated. See what they mean when they say “security”?

But then, the security guard emerged to show me to the conference room and he gave me the biggest, goofiest smile. Suddenly, laughter bubbled out of me and I felt quite at ease. When I got into the room, I got to meet all the interns (all recent grads) working there. They told me about the projects they are doing and I got to ask them questions. International trade turned out to be much more fluid than I thought, which was why I couldn’t really pin down what the guy who I was conversing with over tiger shrimps actually did. The interns all managed their own projects, set their own schedule, and got their hands dirty right from the start. One of them helped small businesses from the U.S. settle in Canada, and another worked as a kind of middle man for U.S. manufacturers seeking distributors in Canada. To be honest, the rest of the day was much of a blur, but my impression of it was extremely positive, fun and informational, and I’ve stored international trade as a career interest I can seriously consider later. I remember thinking, I can’t wait until my next extern!

According the Program Coordinator, Ron Wener, this year’s application is significantly different from those in previous years, so it is extremely important to go to an orientation even if you’ve done the program in the past. Says Ron, “The biggest change for this year is that we will be posting all available placements to students who register for the program. Students will then apply for the placements that they are most interested in and we will then match the students based on the criteria that sponsors have provided.”

Are you ready to apply? Let me take you to the Extern’s webpage, right here. It lists all the steps to apply for either the February or the April placement. It’s so comprehensive that it would be senseless for me to copy it verbatim.

What are you waiting for, dear readers? I’ve already signed up, so go! There’s no reason not to!

- Cynthia

Still looking for a summer job? Don’t despair!

Don’t have a summer job, but want one? I know a lot of you started summer job search as early as December, but some of you are still jobless, and I know – it’s almost half way through the summer months, and some of you are thinking, “Why bother?”, right?


There are still jobs out there. Summer job search isn’t over until the end of summer! For example, @jimmiutm for the UTM Career Centre Twitter posted about a resort position in Japan – applications are still open for a two-month summer contract.

But you don’t need to go all the way over to Asia to find a summer job. There are still tons of employers looking for immediate placement right here at home, at U of T.

Those of you on OSAP know about the work-study positions around campus during September-April, but apart from work-study positions, U of T also offers a lot of other work opportunities. For example, there are “casual positions” where you are signed to short-term contracts – summer jobs, in other words!

Take the Faculty of Physical Education and Health for example. They employ 6-700 students every year, and 130-140 of those are work-study. 80% of the people they hire are U of T students and they are the largest part-time employer on campus. If you go to the Career Centre website and do an advanced search under organization name for “U OF T – FACULTY OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH”, you’ll see a list of part-time casual positions available, effective immediately.

I talked with Darcy and Ali, Manager of the Centre for Leadership Training and Education and Pool Manager at the faculty. They tell me that they offer an “extensive training program” to students they hire, where apart from a general orientation you attend when you first start work, you not only get scenario training specific to your job, you get hands-on practice, as well as workshops regarding equity and accessibility. They don’t just want you to work, they want you to learn and grow. Talk about fabulous work experience! And their wages are incredibly competitive. Depending on your qualifications, they offer upwards of $29/hr for the position of leadership clinic instructor! In fact, they will be doing wet screening for their aquatics positions on July 11th, so hurry over to the Career Centre website or www.acjobs.utoronto.ca to see what jobs are waiting for you!

If you’ve given up looking for a summer job, dust off your resumes and polish your cover letters. Look around – posters, signs, ads – to see what’s available, check websites for postings, and search the Career Centre for new listings every day. There are employers looking for you, right now. All you’ve got to do now is to find them, and present yourself. Good luck!

Summer Job Search

When I went home for the break in February, my father and I had a discussion about summer jobs. As someone who is looking for both skill development and money, he pointed out that this is the time to be applying for summer jobs.

January and February tend to be cluttered with application deadlines for summer job in both public and private fields. While many applications do extend into the March period, let me make something clear – if you are still looking for a job, you’d better get a move on.

March and April tend to be interview periods. Companies review applications, cover letters, resumes and take into account references, marks, skills and previous work experiences. Applicants are called in for interviews, and generally, by the end of March to Mid-April, you should be able to figure out which of the applications you submitted are serious job prospects.

Now, I do understand that finding a job can be tough – you want something that pays well, is a reputable company, and will develop your skills set. Many of you are aware of the Career Centre website that posts jobs – here are some important tips to keep in mind when reviewing and applying to the postings.

1. Job Description: The most important thing is to figure out what the job will entail. Many of the postings on the career center website are posted by regular citizens, who may be looking for a baby-sitter or even a grass cutter. The Career Centre doesn’t monitor the posts, so it’s important for you to make sure that whatever job you choose will ensure your safety.

2. Job Requirements: Applying for a job takes time and effort. If you are under-qualified for the job, don’t waste your time. This doesn’t mean you need to underestimate your own skills – if the job requirement asks for 5 years of experience, and you have three, you can realistically explain to your potential employer that your three-year experience well-equipped you for the job. Or if the job needs a CPR certificate, you can tell your employeers you’ll take a course before the job starts and produce your certificate at the beginning of summer (many courses are available). But if the job asks for certain certifications, like a Haircutting certification, or a paralegal degree, and you don’t have that, then put your application efforts to jobs that suit your current credentials better.

3. Check out the pay: I’ve always wondered if, when companies post their available jobs, they realize how important pay is to students and what a distinguishing factor is it when individuals apply to jobs. It’s important for you to know how much the job will pay you, so there are no difficulties when you start.

4. How many hours?: Just because the pay is good, doesn’t mean you’ll make a lot of money. If a job pays $18/h but only lets you work 20 hours a week, then you’re not better off than anyone else who making $9 (although, on the plus side, you get more time off). Hours are important. On the opposite side, if the job requires odd hours, early morning or weekend shifts, those are all important to take into consideration.

5. Date the Job starts: As a B.A. student, my skill levels tend to match everything from Administrative Positions to Camp Counsellors to Painters! An important factor to look out for is when the job starts – many jobs actually start in July, but pay minimum wages, which means you’re not making up the lost money in May and June. Look out for when the job starts, especially if it involved camps, schools, children, day-cares, or public services that are based on a seasonal schedule.

5. Location: Students sometimes forget that location is an important factor, because we’re so used to travelling to school everyday. Remember, unlike choosing classes, its tough to select your starting work time. For an individual like myself, it takes almost two and a half hours to get from the door of my house to the door of my Res, one way. If I have a job downtown, and it starts at 9AM, that means im leaving the house no later than 6:30 or 7AM to make it just on time. Getting up at 5:30 or 6:00AM everyday during the summer is not my cup of tea! So location and travel time are very important to consider. For individuals who don’t drive, access to public transit may be another important locational factor.

Good luck job hunting!

Until Next Week!


The Quarter-Life Crisis of a First Generation Immigrant Part III: Breaking Free

One of my biggest fears in life is to miss an opportunity. I hate the emptiness of “never knowing” that accompanies regret. It’s like a big, black hole that sucks the optimism out of me, and leaves me deep in self-loathing.

As I grow older, I couldn’t help but wonder if adults have a good reason for being cynical. I didn’t want to believe it–and I still don’t–but could it be possible that for some things in life, once you get past a certain time frame, it is indeed “too late”?

Things like, a career, for example. Not just any career–a career that you love, a career that you are passionate about, a career that makes you want to get up in the morning. I’ve always wondered what I’d do if, by either fear of the unknown or sheer ignorance, in a decade’s time I end up like one of those empty souls who routinely complain about their jobs but stick with it nevertheless–”I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” (Macbeth). These people have all once been at a crossroad. Perhaps they’d chosen the road less travelled and never reached the end. Perhaps they’d chosen the road most travelled because it seemed like the easiest way out. Either way, you look at these Epic Fails and know that somewhere down the path of life, they got lost.

Being the melodramatic person that I am, I’ve always wished for a life that is highly romanticized. According to that story, I would live up to my outrageous ideals despite parental and societal opposition, crawl through the confusing youth while being utterly broke, then one day discovers THE opportunity that lifts me out of my hell hole, allowing me to become a writer of influence (fall in love, marry, become a mother) and live through my old age telling autobiographical stories highlighting the importance of persistence.

But seriously, we’ve got to be realistic here. For one thing, I’m nowhere near broke because I am a first generation immigrant and most parents of this genre selflessly fund their children’s post-secondary education. While in many ways I can’t be more grateful, I dislike how this gives them the power to have plenty of say in how my life is run–i.e. what discipline I should study, where to live, how to live…you name it, my parents are probably affiliated with it in some way or other. I know they love me and want to make life as easy for me as possible, but the problem is that I need to know who I am and be who I am, not who my parents are or what they want me to be. For as long as I remember, I’ve been longing for a sense of independence and freedom that means more to me than anything else in life. I want to be able to think for myself, not have them think with me such that I carry a part of my parents’ desires in every decision I make. I want to be able to actually make mistakes, to realize that I’ve made mistakes, and be reassured that no matter who I end up becoming, at the end of the day they’ll love me anyway. I want to have the freedom to live life for me, and to give back to them because I love them, not because I owe them for everything they’ve done for me.

Breaking free is so hard, especially for those who are first-generation immigrants who might carry more than just the dream of finding a stable job, live in a big house, have a family and own a few cars (errr, wait, this is what our parents want). For a lot of us, just having it all is no longer enough–we want it to be meaningful, something our parents just can’t seem to grasp given the lack of security that accompanies the experience of moving to a new country. This is why Asian students are usually pressured to enter programs like Life Science, Engineering, Computer Science and Commerce: their parents want for them the one thing they’ve been seeking all their lives–stability. And they would rather pay $800 for their kids to learn “real skills” (like how to operate a pipette) than the ability to effectively critique Faulkner. Their thoughts on this are innocently linear:

Learn “hard skills” and do well in school –> settle early into a predictable career with “excellent job prospects”–> begin a life blessed by stability –> Holy Happiness

Being fully aware that I’m at one of life’s biggest crossroads right now, I often feel lost when I become unable to distinguish between my own hopes and dreams with those that my parents have for me. But it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. After all, I’ve come to realize that being twenty-something in itself is like a quarter-life crisis. This entire decade of your life is dedicated almost exclusively to soul-searching and finding the right path, which of course involves much turbulence.  Surprisingly, writing this post has given me courage. It’s convinced me that clichés, sometimes so elementary that they are absurd, actually might hold true to their values: It really is never too late. After all, had Macbeth believed this, Shakespeare’s play might’ve turned out to be a comedy instead.

When I watched the Road Trip Nation videos a while ago, one of the things that was said really stuck with me: “Life is a trapeze: it exists at the moment you release from one bar and reach for the next”. Break free, from expectations, pressure, and stereotypes, but most importantly, break free from your own self-limiting beliefs. Don’t let people discourage you, because they are wrong. The secret that nobody dares to believe is that we never actually know if we’ve made the “right” choice–rather, we can only take our choices, and make it as good as possible. Thus I have amazing faith that whatever you choose to embark on next, you will not only be successful–you’ll have a blast, too.


Ripped, Revised, Résumé-d

You need a summer job.

Can’t you feel it? The impending sinking feeling when you log on to your ROSI account and a horrendous number in bold, bright red appears, reminding you that you are broke, and need to pay for school?

You need a summer job, so when $5297 appears on your account, you don’t lock yourself in your room, curl up in a fetal position and cry.

Last week, the Résumé Clinic at our beloved Career Centre held a drop-in day, where you could come in anywhere from 10am-3pm without an appointment, and have your résumé reviewed. I figured that since I was on the way to landing a fantastic summer job, I’d need a competitive résumé.

When I entered the Career Centre (located at the Koffler Student Centre), I could see that quite a few students had taken advantage of this opportunity – there was a waiting queue. Despite this, I was seen in a very short time…and here, I met Claire.

Now Claire is one of those people who knows exactly how to use time efficiently, while being sweet. She was simply charming, and somehow managed to rip apart my three-page resume and provide me with an incredible amount of advice for improvement, without hurting my feelings or even getting me riled a bit. As a tribute to her excellent advice, I’d like to share with you what she taught me, and give you a bit of a teaser, so you’ll be willing you go in there and meet her yourself! :)


First, I learnt to identify what purpose my résumé was serving for me. Using standard résumé for a job application, scholarship application and graduate school is really not a good idea, because it doesn’t emphasize the skills that you have which cater to what you are applying to.

I was hoping to have a résumé to apply to a job – in specifics, in the legal and/or administrative areas.


Claire provided me with an enlightening blue book called ‘Keys to Your Future: a powerful résumé and cover letter’ that has been created by the U of T Career Centre. In this package, there are sample résumés and cover letters which are catered for you to recognize your own skills and display them accordingly. The layout of your résumé is important – and factors such as chronology or importance of content can dictate which layout you choose. Some résumés highlight education, research experience and field work, while others will present technical skills and work experience. The key is to find the résumé layout best for you.


One of the most interesting tips I learnt from Claire is to make more than one résumé, where each resume caters to a specific job type. In my case, for example, I would like to work in a law office. I have plenty of academic experience through my criminology courses, practical experience through Moot Competitions such as Osgoode Cup, and administrative experience from working as the Secretary of the Pre-Law Society, as well as in an optometry office. While I’ve had plenty of other experiences during volunteer work, etc., the above activities really cater to law. Claire suggested that I make two separate résumés, one detailing my law experience prominently.

The Résumé Clinic can provide you with many other helpful hints, including how to write a proper cover letter, how to effectively change your résumé for grad school, and how to, overall, make your resume standout among applicants. You can visit the Résumé Clinic by scheduling an appointment….Check it out! They are really good :)

Until next week!